Even speed limits are bigger in Texas. Or at least they could be, as the state ponders posting an 85 mph limit for a new freeway that would be the highest speed limit in the nation -- not to mention the Western Hemisphere.
Texas State Highway 130 is under construction between San Antonio and Austin, the state capital. Once it's finished, transportation planners hope drivers will take Highway 130, a toll road, instead of Interstate 35, one of the Lone Star State's most congested freeways.
A proposed 85 mph speed limit on Highway 130 would offer a speedier option for drivers sick of I-35's gridlock. But not so fast, critics contend.
Higher speeds can lead to more severe car crash injuries, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Though studies also suggest that variations in speed (for example, from vehicles merging onto a highway) can be a factor in car crashes, "the risk of death and severe injury is a direct exponential function of speed, not speed differences," according to the IIHS.
Since the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 repealed the nationwide maximum speed limit of 65 mph, at least 34 states have raised their limits to 70 mph or higher, the IIHS reports. (Two states that previously had no posted numerical speed limits for daytime driving on rural highways -- Montana and Nevada -- have since set limits at 75 mph.)
Texas' proposed 85 mph speed limit on Highway 130 would be legal, thanks to a bill the state legislature approved last year. The 85 mph limit would be second only to the 86 mph posted limit (or 140 kph) in Poland, Reuters reports. A series of speed studies must still be conducted, however.